4 Sept 2018

Scott Reid

4 Sept 2018

Good morning, 

Oh boy. A new school year is upon us around the UK, parliaments return from recess today and the whiff of hope and opportunity is in the air. What could go wrong?
 
Well judging by this morning’s papers, apparently quite a few things.
 
Happily for the prime minister, her party isn’t first in the firing line as Labour’s ruling body meets to discuss whether to adopt in full an international definition of anti-Semitism. The issue has dogged the party throughout the summer, and if Jeremy Corbyn is to mount any meaningful challenge to Theresa May’s leadership, the quicker a full definition is agreed the better, lest any more of his MPs decide to jump ship.
 
Sadly for Theresa May, her Brexit woes are every bit as reliable as a good punch-up in the Labour party. The fact that the hard Remain and Leave camps of the Tory party are at last finding common ground will be of little consolation. Fresh on the heels from comments made by Jacob-Rees Mogg that he was “in greater agreement” with the EU than the government over Brexit, this morning the former education secretary Justine Greening suggests to The Times that Theresa May’s Chequers blueprint is now “more unpopular than the poll tax”.
 
North of the border, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon prepares to set out this year’s Programme of Government at the opening of the Scottish Parliament, with an anticipated focus on mental health, the environment, and sustainable economic growth. One of several potential elephants in the room, of course, is the question of a second referendum, amid ongoing Brexit negotiations, givena poll yesterday showed a majority of Scottish voters favour independence if the UK leaves the EU “as planned”.
 
From where I stand, that still looks like a pretty big ‘if’ and a somewhat generous understanding of what might constitute a “plan” if proceedings at Westminster are anything to go by. So, yes, the new school year might seem scary, but at least we can take heart in the fact that nothing much changes in British politics… right?

News 

The Argentinian government has announced it will cut “about half” of its ministries and raise taxes in a bid to tackle the country’s currency crisis. Speaking in a televised address, President Mauricio Macri said Argentina faced an “emergency” and promised to balance the budget by as early as next year. The Argentine peso has also lost about half its value against the dollar since the start of 2018, despite the central bank raising interest rates to 60%.
 
Misogyny could be reclassified as a hate crime under proposals to be voted on by MPs tomorrow. Labour MP Stella Creasy has forwarded an amendment to the Voyeurism Bill that would make the hatred of women an aggravating factor in “upskirting” cases, which if passed, would extend protections based on sex characteristic currently seen in the workplace to other public and private spaces. (£)
 
British universities have called on the government to reintroduce a two-year work visa for overseas graduates on completion of their studies. Universities UK released a briefing to parliament this morning citing falling international student numbers and the economic potential for the 450,000 internationals that currently study in the UK each year if they were allowed to remain.

Business & Economy 

Paul Pester is to step down as chief executive of TSB, after an IT glitch earlier this year led to ongoing issues for customers. Pester has been in the role for seven years, a period that included the bank's sale by Lloyds Banking Group to Banco Sabadell. Richard Meddings, chairman of TSB, will take on executive responsibilities with immediate effect until a successor is appointed after a "full public search".
 
The Treasury is reported to be in talks with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to continue his term to 2020. The governor’s current term is due to end on June 30 next year, having stated he only intended to serve five years of a maximum eight-year term as governor when he assumed the post in 2013. Carney is due to appear before the Treasury Select Committee later today, where he will face scrutiny over his succession plans and opinion on Brexit negotiations.

The West Midlands has won a government contract to become Britain’s first 5G test area. Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton will become 5G “hubs” to develop new wireless technology services with government funding of up to £50 million. A further £25 million and contributions from the private sector will be made available at a later stage, with Britain’s four mobile phone operators expected to start upgrading their networks to 5G late next year. (£)
 
Funding Circle is set to float on the London Stock Exchange in a move that could value it at nearly £2 billion. The peer-to-peer lending unicorn was launched in 2010 and has to date provided around £5 billion in capital to SMEs via its online lending platform. The flotation is intended to target a share sale of up to £300 million. (£)

Markets 

What happened yesterday? 
Amid fresh turmoil over the government’s Brexit negotiating stance, the pound backtracked on its recent gains on Monday which turned out to be a silver lining for the London markets. By close of play, the FTSE 100 was up by 0.97% or 72.18 points to 7,504.60 as the pound fell 0.61% against the dollar to $1.289 and 0.73% versus the euro to €1.11.
 
The pound’s losses were reinforced after poor manufacturing data showed activity falling to a two-year low in August as export orders dipped. Future outlook also struck a sour note; the latest PMI report suggesting manufacturing production will contribute zero growth to the wider UK economy during the third quarter.
 
In corporate news, advertising giant WPP edged higher as it announced the appointment of Mark Read as its new chief executive, a day ahead of what are expected to be buoyant half-year results. Royal Mail (3.01%) was also up as it announced the acquisition of Canadian parcel delivery company Dicom Canada for around £213 million on a debt and cash free basis.
 
At the bottom end of the scale were water companies Severn Trent (-1.50%), Pennon Group (-1.77%) and United Utilities (-1.97%) all of which faltered as they submitted plans to the regulator Ofwat on how they would help boost consumer savings over the next five year period. Severn Trent pledged to slash water bills by five per cent, spooking investors that government pressure might lead to lower profits.

Finals              
Craneware
A&J Mucklow Group
Mattioli Woods
Redrow
 
Interims
Alfa Financial Software Holdings
Boku, Inc (DI) Reg S
Cairn Homes
Dalata Hotel Group      
European Wealth Group Limited          
Filta Group Holdings
Gulf Marine Services
Highland Gold Mining Ltd.       
India Capital Growth Fund Ltd. 
Inspired Energy
Johnson Service Group
Lighthouse Group        
Michelmersh Brick Holdings
Porta Communications
Taptica International (DI)
Telit Communications  
WPP

Trading Announcements
Halfords Group
McColl's Retail Group
Smith (DS)
 
AGMs
Bagir Group Ltd. (DI)    
Boxhill Technologies    
Downing Four VCT DP67          
European Wealth Group Limited
Hargreaves Lansdown  
Jupiter Green Inv Trust
Monks Inv Trust
Severfield       
Smith (DS)

UK Economic Announcements
(09.30) PMI Construction

International Economic Announcements
(10:00) Producer Price Index (EU)
(14:45) PMI Manufacturing (US)
(15:00) Construction Spending (US)
(15:00) ISM Manufacturing (US)
(15:00) ISM Prices Paid (US)
(20:30) Auto Sales (US)

Columns of Note 

Alistair Osborne writes in The Times that Mark Carney is a master of confusing forward guidance at the Bank of England. Referencing the governor’s campaign to hype an interest rate rise since he joined in 2013, Osborne comments that he is now in danger of undermining the stabilising influence of the Bank in Brexit negotiations over the question of extending his term beyond 2019. Osborne thinks it would be wiser for the government to appoint a new governor quickly, showing the office is not a plaything for media hijinks. (£)
 
Also writing in The Times, Hugo Rifkind pokes fun at suggestions the government will delay a bill authorising HS2’s extension into the north to 2020.He points out that nearly all of the rail network’s critics within government are Brexiteers worried about spending too much, with little thought given to the irony of how much a hard exit from the EU could cost. (£)

Did you know? 

Dogs have been proven to align the direction of their defecation with the planet’s geomagnetic poles – or, in other words, ‘to poo whilst facing north’. According to German and Czech academic research, which observed 37 breeds of dog over a two-year period and nearly 7,500 “acts”, scientists found “dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the north-south axis”.

Parliamentary highlights 

TODAY
 
House of Commons
Oral questions
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (including Topical Questions)
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Ceramics (Country of Origin Marking) - Ruth Smeeth
 
Legislation and Programme Motion
Civil Liability Bill [Lords] - Second Reading
 
Money Resolution
Civil Liability Bill [Lords] - Mel Stride
 
Adjournment
Gilligan report on cycling in Oxford and Cambridge - Layla Moran

House of Lords
Oral questions
Proposals to amend the UK food standards regulations in the event of a “no deal” scenario when the United Kingdom leaves the EU - Lord Bassam of Brighton
 
Level of personation at elections in Great Britain - Lord Rennard
 
Imitation speech and images generated by artificial intelligence to advance political agendas - Lord Haskel
 
Restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland. - Lord Lexden
 
Legislation
Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill - Second reading and remaining stages - Lord Bates
 
Short debate
Reviewing UK assistance to Afghanistan and the prospects for peace in that country - Baroness D'Souza
 
Scottish Parliament
Topical Questions
 
First Minister Statement
Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2018-19
 
Members Business
Glasgow and Berlin’s Successful European Championships 2018
 
TOMMOROW
 
House of Commons
Oral questions
Northern Ireland
 
Prime Minister's Question Time
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) - Mrs Pauline Latham
 
Programme Motion
Tenant Fees Bill - (Programme) (No.2) Motion - James Brokenshire
 
Legislation
Tenant Fees Bill - Remaining Stages
 
Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill - Remaining Stages
 
Adjournment
Training of nurses in England - Richard Drax

House of Lords
Oral questions
Occasions in 2017 when visas were granted to men whose wives or family members had raised concerns about forced marriage - Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale
 
Impact on claimants of the timing of Universal Credit
assessments and payments - Baroness Sherlock
 
Report by the Adam Smith Institute, 'Asleep at the Wheel: The Prudential Regulation Authority and the Equity Release Sector' - Lord Sharkey
 
Government representations to authorities in Northern Ireland to make the use of Misoprostol legal as is already the case in England, Scotland and Wales. - Baroness Thornton
 
Legislation
Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [HL] - Committee (day 1) - Lord O'Shaughnessy
 
Short debate
Addressing the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, with particular regard to the role of the security forces - Lord Dannatt
 
Scottish Parliament
Portfolio Questions
Finance and the Constitution
Economy, Jobs and Fair Work
 
Scottish Government Business